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J Health Popul Nutr. 2013 Dec;31(4):480-9.

Nutritional outcomes related to household food insecurity among mothers in rural Malaysia.

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Department of Community Medicine, School of Medical Sciences.
Program of Nutrition & Dietetics, School of Health Sciences, Health Campus, Universiti Sains Malaysia, Kubang Kerian, 16150 Kelantan, Malaysia.
Program of Nutrition and Dietetics, Faculty of Medicine and Health Sciences, Universiti Putra Malaysia, Serdang 43400 Selangor, Malaysia.


During the past two decades, the rates of food insecurity and obesity have risen. Although a relationship between these two seemingly-paradoxical states has not been repeatedly seen in men, research suggests that a correlation between them exists in women. This study examines nutritional outcomes of household food insecurity among mothers in rural Malaysia. A cross-sectional survey of low-income households was conducted, and 223 households with mothers aged 18-55 years, who were non-lactating, non-pregnant, and had at least one child aged 2-12 years, were purposively selected. A questionnaire was administered that included the Radimer/Cornell Scale, items about sociodemographic characteristics, and anthropometric measurements. Of the households, 16.1% were food-secure whereas 83.9% experienced some kind of food insecurity: 29.6% of households were food-insecure, 19.3% contained individuals who were food-insecure, and 35.0% fell into the 'child hunger' category. The result reported that household-size, total monthly income, income per capita, and food expenditure were significant risk factors of household food insecurity. Although there was a high prevalence of overweight and obese mothers (52%) and 47.1% had at-risk waist-circumference (> or = 80 cm), no significant association was found between food insecurity, body mass index, and waist-circumference. In conclusion, the rates of household food insecurity and overweight and obesity were high in the study population, although they are looking paradoxical. Longitudinal studies with larger sample-sizes are recommended to further examine the relationship between food insecurity and obesity.

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